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The Green Sheet Online Edition

September 12, 2016 • Issue 16:09:01


Qualify prospects, save time

Imagine you're reaching the end of a presentation that's been going exceedingly well. You go for the close only to learn the manager you've spent the last 45 minutes with doesn't have as much authority as you'd assumed. Indeed, in command as the individual appears to be, he finally admits to not being a key decision maker at a retailer you want very much to land.

All is not lost, of course. You'll likely return as soon as possible to meet with the right person. However, you have wasted time: yours and the manager's.

"You do not want your time wasted, and prospects feel the same way," Paul H. Green wrote in Good Selling!SM The Basics. "A professional salesperson will always qualify the person he or she talks to before giving a presentation to prevent wasting time or having to make yet another visit."

The way to do this is to hone your skills when it comes to qualifying prospects. The person you meet with must have the authority to sign a service agreement and follow through with implementation. Here are three questions Green offered to help discover whether the person you're speaking with is, indeed, a decision maker at the company:

  • Are all the headaches of running this store yours or do you have someone to share them with?
  • Would you like someone to sit in with us when we meet or do you make the decisions alone?
  • Would you make a decision on this service or would you need to consult with someone?

Digging deeper

Once you have the attention of the person in authority, you can ask additional questions to encourage productive conversation and further qualify the prospect. Here are examples adapted from a June 15, 2016, post by Emma Brudner at http://blog.hubspot.com/sales/16-sales-qualification-questions-to-identify-prospects-worth-pursuing#sm.0001sda6w8hwtcytr4x1b3fd8vdst:

  • What business problem are you seeking to fix with a new processing partner?
  • What's prompting you to do something about it now?
  • Have you tried to solve this problem in the past? If so, why didn't the solution work?
  • What will happen if you do nothing about the problem?
  • What are you currently spending on this issue?
  • Do you have a budget allocated for this project? If not, when do you expect that you will?
  • How does the budget signoff process work?
  • How would the decision process work with an offering like this?
  • What hurdles could crop up and derail this project?
  • What other solutions are you evaluating?
  • What does success look like to you, both in terms of qualitative and quantitative results?
  • What does solving this problem mean to you personally? What do you stand to gain if the issue was solved? What do you stand to lose if it goes unresolved?
  • Based on what you've seen so far, do you think our offering could be a viable solution for your problem?

So in your enthusiasm for growing your merchant portfolio, remember to fully qualify prospects before meeting with them. Your time, and theirs, is precious. end of article

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